Marañon warns informal settlers at NNNP

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Friday, March 14, 2014

NEGROS Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. warned on Thursday the owners of structures within the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP) that he will not allow anyone to encroach in the protected area of the park.

"If we allow them there, we will be left with no forest at all in the future. We will demolish all their structures no matter who they are. There are no sacred cows in our protection for the environment," the governor said.

Marañon also challenged government officials who are in the list of those who have structures within the NNNP protected area to follow the law and set an example to their constituents.


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had earlier issued cease and desist orders (CDOs) to the 39 individuals who have built structures within the NNNP, and more will soon be served.

These individuals include even Salvador Benedicto Mayor Jose Max Ortiz and Murcia Mayor Andrew Montelibano.

Six of the 39 individuals personally received the orders while some of the CDOs were served to the village chiefs of the areas where they are located.

Meanwhile, the governor refused to comment on reports that the father of Wilfred Peñalosa, head of the Provincial Environment Management Office (Pemo), is one of those who have vacation houses at the NNNP in Salvador Benedicto.

"He is a lawyer. Provincial Administrator Enrique Pinongan cannot comment and I cannot answer questions for him," Marañon said of the Pemo head.

About the suggestion of Ortiz for the governor to hold a dialog with all the stakeholders of NNNP to possibly resolve the encroachment issue, Marañon said that the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) which he co- chairs with the regional executive director of the DENR is set to convene.

"He has been here several times. The door is open and no one stops him from coming here," Marañon said of Ortiz.

"They have to follow the law. It's their problem if they bought parcels of land there,” governor added.

Ortiz had earlier admitted that he is one of the 39 individuals who were issued a CDO.

He added that more than 10,000 residents of the town are living within the NNNP, which is also occupied by all the municipal government offices.

Ortiz said that through a dialog, he hopes the issues would be resolved since at present, no law yet governs the NNNP, rather it is governed by the National Integrated Protected Area System Act of 1992.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 14, 2014.

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